The Political Grind

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Republicans sound off on health care law

President Obama’s event in Portland on Thursday to promote the recently enacted health care reform package elicited, not surprisingly, strong responses from Maine’s top Republicans.

The strongest rhetoric came from Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster who drafted an open letter to the president “welcoming” him to the state before asking why Obama sought to hurt small businesses, seniors, rural hospitals. Webster also asserted that the law violated the U.S. Constitution and lacked bipartisanship.

“Again, welcome to Maine. Please spend a lot of money at our stores. Our mom and pop shops need the help because they aren’t going to get it with your health care reform package,” said Webster at the end of the letter.

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Senate Minority Leader Kevin Raye of Perry also chastised Obama’s lack of bipartisanship in crafting the new law.

“It’s always an honor to welcome the President of the United States to Maine,” he said in a release. “I do wish, however, that President Obama had the same passion for Maine’s tradition of constructive bipartisanship as he does for campaign-style rallies to sell his health care law after the fact.”

Raye, former chief-of-staff for U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, said Obama should have worked harder to get the approval of Maine’s pair of moderate Republican senators.

“Maine’s Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have distinguished themselves by their ability to work in a bipartisan fashion. It speaks volumes that the President failed to work constructively with them and other Republicans to pass a bill that could have won support from both sides of the aisle,” Raye said in the release.

And Republican congressional candidates Jason Levesque, running in Maine’s 2nd District, and Dean Scontras, running in Maine’s 1st District, also sent out news releases criticizing the new law.

“The people do not want a job-killing, tax-hiking, premium-increasing, government-intervening, mandate-filled piece of legislation such as what Mike Michaud voted for and the president signed,” Levesque said in a release. “It is disingenuous to pretend that today’s visit is anything more than a political stunt to attempt to use the star of the President to garner support for a very bad, very unpopular piece of legislation.”

But Levesque also thanked Obama for coming.

“Despite my differences with many of his policies, he is the president of the United States and it is an honor to have him in my home state,” he said.

Scontras said Obama did not sufficiently address the costs associated with the new law.

“During his speech the president joked that, ‘Armageddon didn’t happen’ after he signed the health care bill,” Scontras said in the release. “While the earth may not have trembled last week, we should all quake at the size of our debt and growing annual deficits.”

– Rebekah Metzler

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